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Potential Changes in Generation Interconnection

Transmission lines
May 29, 2024

The landscape of electricity generation is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the rapid integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). As this sector evolves, the interconnection processes that link these resources to the grid are also poised for change.

Here’s what industry leaders at Ulteig are anticipating while assisting utilities through these transitions:

Smart Inverters Take Center Stage

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MN PUC), like other entities around the United States, is setting a new standard by requiring all new DER interconnections to use smart inverters compliant with IEEE 1547-2018 and certified under UL 1741 SB. This move, mirroring similar mandates in states across the country, including California, could allow DERs to boost their power output without necessitating extensive grid upgrades.

Smart inverters achieve this by intelligently managing voltage and frequency, offering a more dynamic and responsive way to integrate DERs into the grid.

The Impact of FERC Order 2222

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 2222 is a game-changer, aiming to level the playing field for DERs in wholesale electricity markets. By compelling Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs) to adjust market rules, this order seeks to enable DERs to aggregate and compete on par with traditional generation assets.

Although approved in September 2020, full implementation of FERC Order 2222 is still on the horizon, with the promise of enhancing grid services and reducing electricity costs. However, these changes will also bring new challenges to utilities.

Refined Interconnection Processes

Continuous evaluation and refinement of interconnection standards and procedures are crucial to accommodating the surge in DER interconnections. These changes are typically overseen at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) or Public Service Commission (PSC), depending on the state, or at the utility level. They are critical for streamlining the interconnection process and supporting the growing diversity of DERs.

The Advent of New Technologies

Innovations are continually shaping the DER sector. Beyond smart inverters, we are seeing advancements in Distribution Energy Management Systems (DERMs) that offer utilities better visibility and optimization potential for interconnected DERs. These technologies pave the way for Virtual Power Plants (VPPs). Furthermore, breakthroughs in solar technology, like rollable solar film, solar-integrated windows and solar shingles are creating more opportunities for the integration of renewable generation at the distribution level.

The Importance of This Evolution

The shift towards DERs represents a fundamental change in how electricity is generated, delivered and used. This evolution promises numerous benefits, including environmental advantages, customer savings and increased utility operation efficiency. However, it also brings forth new challenges that must be addressed to ensure grid resilience, safety and reliability.

Some of these changes, such as the implementation of smart inverters, are happening now. Others, particularly those related to FERC Order 2222, are in active development and are expected to come into play shortly.

Ulteigā€™s Role in the DER Interconnection Process

With deep expertise in the DER interconnection process, Ulteig is well-positioned to guide clients through developing and revising interconnection procedures. From application reviews to System Impact and Protection Studies, Ulteig’s team ensures proposed interconnections are beneficial for the grid. Moreover, Ulteig’s Substation and Distribution Design teams can undertake any necessary grid upgrades identified during the assessment phase, making the integration of DERs as smooth as possible.

Ulteig is ready to help clients adapt, innovate and thrive in the evolving energy landscape. Contact us today to discuss how we can support your DER interconnection project.

  • Energy, Grid Modernization


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